Bike-light that paints a laser-lit bike-lane on the road around you

LightLane is a concept gadget that paints a bike lane around your bicycle with laser-light as you pedal through the night:
Enter LightLane, a safety concept from the clever designers at Altitude, Inc. The system projects a virtual bike lane (using lasers!) on the ground around the cyclists, providing drivers with a recognizable boundary they can easily avoid. The idea is to allow riders to take safety into their own hands, rather than leaving it to the city.
Superb Idea: Bike Lane That Travels With You (via Dvice)


  1. Yes. I could have used this tonight biking home, even though Portland is bike-lane Mecca. It’d be fun to have a few bikes in a row using that system to really work the illusion.

  2. It’s not clear if someone has actually made this or if it’s just an idea. Ideas are a dime a dozen, but getting this thing to work like imagined would be something to post about.

  3. Pretty sweet!

    I have had better reactions from drivers now that I have two rear crazy-bright flashers… there are some new ones that pulse a pattern of insane-bright-bright-insane that also give good reactions from drivers.

    The issue is, however, that most drivers do not know how big their cars are. The lines projected may help with the spatial awareness.

    Drivers who are not used to seeing bikes are more tentative. Most of the time cyclists just need drivers to keep doing what they’re doing and the cyclist will miss them.

    For your viewing pleasure, witness New York drivers completely ignoring bike couriers while they do insane things, possibly while high… I’m looking at you Mr. Brunelle…

    Click on drag race NYC. Good for a voyeuristic adrenaline release.

  4. Unless this thing is absurdly bright, it probably won’t be worth a hill of beans. Better to wear bright reflective clothing and use flashing lights.

  5. In most cases there aren’t bike-lanes ’cause the roads aren’t wide enough, so the bikers can paint anything they want — it won’t add a bit of safety. And that guy on the photo would better turn on sidelights.

    Though the concept is funny ;)

  6. From what Genn said:

    In many cases where there are bike-lanes (in the UK at least) the roads aren’t wide enough, so the council can paint anything they want — it doesn’t add a bit of safety.

  7. Indeed — put the thing on the market and I’d be interested; concepts are ten-a-penny.

    Although, I can’t help wondering if users might be prosecuted, since you are making a bike lane where there isn’t one…?

  8. While its a cute device, its probably illegal ( I doubt its fites the SAE spec for a rear light) I would imagine anyone who ran into you would offer up a “I was just blinded by this laser beam ..” defence.

    I also doubt it’s actually visible … around here roads are matt black, which, when I last checked, was a pretty poor reflector.

  9. That is just awesome, I’ve recently started using my bike again for getting around Edinburgh where cycle lanes are pretty sparse. Night cycling can get pretty hairy, even with reflective gear and good lights, so something like this (if made correctly and visible enough) would be a godsend. It may not make drivers drive and safer but the novelty of it may at least snap them out of their auto-induced dazes for a change.

  10. Does anybody know the source of LIghtLane?
    I’ve only found dozens of blogs linking each other…
    (makes the copyright sign under the picture a bit senseless)

  11. Anonymous, drivers at least have to do something about councillor’s paintings ;) Give the road or something.

    Kiltreiser, I am thinking of doing it myself using the clocks that project current time and date on the wall. Wonder if it would work ;)

  12. Genius! This will surely prevent road accidents involving cyclists

    Except for the fact that the cyclist is wearing dull clothes, has forgotten to put lights on his bike and is riding down the wrong side of the road.

    I’m going to assume he is also riding one-handed because he’s holding a spliff and listening to heavy dub reggae and is strangely distracted by the pretty light show following him everywhere he goes.

    Terrible! This will surely cause more road accidents involving cyclists.

  13. What’s the big deal? Many cyclists in London have a more advanced *invisible* version of this technology already.

  14. The “head-on crash” line is nonsense: if it’s too narrow to pass safely, it’s too narrow to pass safely. Funny lights do not absolve a driver of the requirement to use his brain.

    Oh, and the bike lane is too narrow – if that was a real one, it would be a dog.

    #16, the rest of the kit is dull and unlit to show off the lane-light. Artistic licence, dude. :)

  15. Its a good start. Now if these lasers were actually weapons grade and could enforce the “virtual lane” in a steel shearing cage of searing light… — This message brought to you by the Council of Mad Scientist Cyclists.

  16. @everythingability: Whatever we may think of this gadget, I think the important thing is that we can both agree that it’s the sole responsibility of bicyclists to avoid getting hit. After all, they’re the ones who are so quirky and unconventional as to use a method of transportation that’s smaller and more fragile than a car, and then try to ride it where cars drive. Roads are special zones in which operators of petroleum-burning vehicles gain special rights. Not organizing your own transportation to accommodate those rights is simply asking to be run over.

  17. I think the point is to make the bike stand out so it will be noticed rather than to suggest drivers stay outside the lines. The safety part comes in when people actually see and recognize there’s a bike rider coming up.

  18. Is “concept” used here in its common marketing/engineering definition of “nice idea, but we don’t have it working yet and aren’t even sure it’s possible, never mind practical”?

    I like the idea of using more area than the bike to say “hey, I’m here” and to indicate (reasonably) safe passing distance. I wouldn’t call it a “bike lane” when the cyclist is free to (and in some cases should) take over a full lane or indeed move into the left lane in order to make a left turn. And indeed, in those circumstances claiming only a narrow swath would be counterproductive.

  19. #16: Which is the correct side of the road, according to you? Where do you think this photo was taken?

  20. I feel sorry for all those people that have to ride bikes in the dark. Can’t we just give them cars? There seem to be severl tens of millions of them just sitting on lots here in Michigan. Cold, frozen, dead lots of cars for miles and miles…

  21. So, Takuan is a ninja biker, and Halloween Jack is a Vehicular Cyclist. That gives us two of the extremes of the commuter biking world.

    Cute concept in a still photograph, bus as a bike wobbles and dodges its way down the street, this could turn into a blurry mess.

    Imagine the chaos during a Critical Mass ride with hundreds of overlapping bike lanes!

  22. @ZikZak,

    Surely you jest? Saying it’s solely a cyclist’s responsibility to avoid being hit, is essentially the same as saying it’s solely a motorist’s responsibility to avoid being hit. Motorists are responsible for controlling their vehicles so as to not cause a collision with *anything*– including buildings, pedestrians, and yes, bicyclists. What’s more, in most U.S. states, bicycles are granted the same rights and responsibilities as cars on roads.

  23. That’s pretty sweet if you ask me. I want one for my Beetle. Beetle lane only! Ooh, also, one for making your own parking space would be awesome.

  24. #27: I’m pretty sure that is sarcasm, but if cyclists have the same responsibilities as motorists, how they CONSTANTLY run stop signs, stop lights, and don’t follow traffic rules in general?

    Adding fancy lights shining on the ground won’t matter as long as people on bicycles continue to ignore the rules of the road.

  25. @enochrewt

    I love how drivers always seem to complain about cyclists who “CONSTANTLY” run stop signs, etc. When is the last time you came to a complete COMPLETE stop at a stop sign? Roll through at 5 miles an hour, did you? Well on a bike, that may look to you like were running a stop sign, since we only go about 15 miles an hour in the city anyway. For every cyclist who “CONSTANTLY” runs stop signs and doesn’t follow rules of traffic, I can show you one who has had deal with hundreds of cars who “CONSTANTLY” don’t give bicyclists the required 3 feet, cut them off at intersections, fail to yield at intersections, tailgate, …

    I think you see my point.

    Yes, there are insane cyclists out there. Ninjas riding at night with no lights. Gonzo spandex speedsters who think every run on their bike is a time trial, and pedestrians be d@mned! Fred commuters who think they own the whole lane, every lane, all the time, at 12 mph. Wrong-way bikers who still follow the rules they were told when they were 8 years old.

    But, it is literally a two-way street out there, and we all have responsibilities. Blaming cyclists for “CONSTANTLY” breaking the rules is thinly disguised way for motorists to dodge their end of it.

    And, in bicycling-related threads, the inevitable blaming of bicyclists is the equivalent of Godwin’s Law.

  26. I would think that unless the laser light is exceedingly bright, by the time the car was close enough to see the ‘bike lane’ on the road, the car’s headlights would wash it completely out.

  27. # 24 is absolutely right, and that is, among other reasons why this kit is not actually a good idea at all. Not only will this distract drivers from the actual bicycle and its rider, but unless those lasers are otherworldly in their brightness, they’ll cast but a trickle of light on black asphalt in any city environment. City light, car lights, and just about any other light source, including you own proper bike lights should you choose to have them would all render this thing impotent. The laser will also be disrupted by standing water, and could possibly shine in the eyes of approaching drivers.

  28. I like it! Cool idea!

    The vigilance and contrarianism of my fellow BB commenters never fails to amuse me. The photo is confusing.. is that a curb that I see to the right of the cyclist, or are we in the UK, where he is violating the law?… scan the CCTV tapes! The laser will disrupt waterfowl migration patterns when it reflects off of puddles! Small rodents may think a laser light show is breaking out on the street… when they run out to look, they will be crushed by cold, heartless spoked wheels… damn those heartless cyclists, anyway!

    Now, what I want is a gadget like this that outlines a Temporary Autonomous Zone as I walk about. What’s the international symbol for a TAZ?


  29. I have an even better idea! Let’s outfit cars with arrays of green lasers to fire at stoplights, thereby making EVERY light a green light! I don’t know why nobody thought of that before.

  30. Hey, if the bikers in my city will actually to wear lights or reflective gear at night, I’d be ecstatic. I can’t tell you how many bikers I’ve almost killed after dark in my lake/park/trail neighborhood.

  31. What a great concept! I would totally love to pair this with my super obnoxious spokePOV. I do wonder, like some of the other commentors, how visible it would be at a distance and/or under the glare of headlights. As to the rants about cyclists never stopping at stop signs etc, how often do you either walk or ride a bike in a populated area? I don’t know about you, but over here in the frigid north, one has to be a mind reader to figure out what these idiots behind the wheel are going to pull. Shout out to Iowa City: I have NEVER been in a place where somebody will blatantly run every single red light. As I understand it, the natives blame this behavior on people from Chicago. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost been pegged legally crossing the street.

  32. Genn @ #10: In most cases there aren’t bike-lanes ’cause the roads aren’t wide enough, so the bikers can paint anything they want — it won’t add a bit of safety.

    Not true. A 2004 study of “sharrows” in San Francisco found that

    sharrows were shown to improve lane positioning of cyclists and improved passing distance by motorists. Sharrows also cut down on the number of sidewalk cyclists and wrong-way cyclists.

    More here.

  33. Superb! Of course, just one nasty pothole later, and my ‘lane’ is misaligned projected onto that pole, dog, pedestrian, and car.

    How to prevent theft of the projection system too…

  34. if there is no bike lane the cars (at least in my city) have to share the road. rather than an imaginary bike lane i’d just like 4 emitters that shoot out sold lines on the pavement to make a box of personal space on the ground around the bike. Then if the road is too narrow to pass, the driver will hopefully be more likely to realize this and hold back until it is safe. at the very least the box around the bike would make drivers more aware of the bike.

  35. Wow, this would be so nice. It would certainly make riding at night a bit safer. Though I interested to see what would happen if a group of bikers or a critical mass all had these lights.

  36. This is pretty tame. If they’ve managed to get lasers functioning on a bike, why not use them to project a hologram of a police car? I doubt if anyone would overtake you then.

  37. st vincent: Some people her have expressed legitimate concerns, and while I agree it is a cool concept, there’s every reason to doubt it’s practicality. Not everyone speaks contrarily only to be speaking contrarily.

    My concern about it reflecting off of puddles, which you mocked, for instance, is a legit. one. Have you ever had a laser in your eye? Even for a tiny falsh of time, it can be bright enough to momentarily render your sight useless. Now go get a pointer and shine it on a puddle. It’s not unreasonable to expect a laser pointing rearward onto the ground would refract off of even damp pavement into the eyes of others.

    Also, if you have a laser pointer, go under a streetlight and shine it on the black asphalt below. You’ll barely see it. See now why this is not the best idea?

    Sometimes contrariness is impressive. Sometimes ignorance is too.

  38. Do want. I don’t care if it’s effective. I really don’t. It paints a bike lane around you with lasers. Laser + bike. How is that not freakin’ sweet?

    I am a bike commuter. I have the reflectors, the lights, all the usual stuff. I use it all the time at night. I’m not a lunatic biker, I stick to the side, use the bike lanes when they are there, stop at the lights, etc. I generally don’t have any trouble except that due to stupidity (either mine or a driver’s). The only people I have trouble with routinely are the buses (the natural predator of cyclists everywhere).

    BUT I WANT ONE OF THESE. How dare you tease me with it when it’s not even available? At least say in the article that it’s not in production yet so I won’t waste my time searching for one.

  39. Surely a better idea for lasers/cycling would be to project a hologram around the cyclist of a police car?
    Drivers would stay well clear of you then.

  40. This reminds me that I really need to (a) install a spoke-POV rig on my bike, and (b) follow up that crazy idea of adding some ground-effect lights angled to claim abut as much pavement space as a car would take up.

    Yeah, we kicked around the ‘car hologram’ idea in the conversation that led to (b) too, but technology to project a hologram into thin air doesn’t actually exist outside of cartoons and movies. We also pondered an EL wire car outline but figure that would be way too fragile.

  41. I’m inventing one for motorcyclists that says:

    “Careful, I’m speeding and weaving like a dumbass.”

  42. Drunk drivers tend to drive toward flashing lights, for those who want to be obnoxious about lighting their bicycles.

  43. Great idea. I can see it working fine (I ride 12 miles through central London at rush hour every day – I know about this stuff). At night, red laser light would show up on tarmac fine, and anything that acts as a visible claim on road space is a good idea.

  44. I’d like to have one of these altered for use while walking. While moving it would project a fake sidewalk and when I stop it would project a room around me, complete with a dotted door with text reading knock before entering. Yes, just like Les Nessman. (age check)

  45. PADSTER, Since we’re pulling out the measuring sticks for credibility, I rode about 35-30 miles a day in rush hour in Manhattan for 2 years and I’m 100% confident this thing would disappear into asphalt. First off, it’s going to cast a narrow line. Why are road lines wide and reflective? Because drivers don’t constantly stare at the asphalt 20 feet in front of them. They’re certainly not going to notice red pencil-stroke-wide lines from an angle. Also, there’s a reason the military uses a lot of red lighting at night, because it’s hard for the human eye to see. So, red, a color hard to see, being cast in narrow lines at an ignored angle from drivers onto the black asphalt where much of it will be absorbed? You’ve got to be kidding. This is at best an interesting concept, but it’s not a solution to the problems of bike safety.

  46. I forgot to mention, again, that in any environment there will also be lights all around this laser seeking to drown it out.

  47. Agreed, then! Laser lane= neat-looking but ineffective.

    I like how it’s opened up the cars v bikes debate in (yet another) forum, with no practical solutions as the outcome.

    Everyone needs to be careful when they’re on the road, no matter what they’re driving. Bicycles aren’t toys and cars can kill. We’re all in this together, maaaaan.

  48. This is clever/fun… but it’s sort of like walking around town with a bunch of stickers that say “THIS IS MINE,” putting them on anything you want and expecting to get away with it. You can’t just MAKE a bike lane where there isn’t one.

    Also, that “photo” appears to be a digital comp of some kind. I bet it is about half as visible as that, at best. Interesting idea though, keep innovating! In the meantime, get a good powerful headlight…

  49. The projected lane is too narrow – it shows about the width that most cars try to pass at (barely wider than the bike’s handlebars) rather than the extra metre or so that would be safe…

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